Time zone gamesmanship

The Tokyo Summer Olympics has us thinking back to when Monday Night Football was tape delayed in Hawaii.

Before ESPN took over in fall 2006, it was on ABC and started in the islands at 6:30 p.m., usually well after the games were finished on the Mainland. If you were planning to watch, you had to be careful not to learn the score. This became an art some of us called, “radio silence.”

How quaint to think you could simply turn off your car radio and be shielded. Now you also need to power down your phone, computer, watch, TV, coffee maker, golf cart and whatever other device that can blurt that American Sunisa Lee won the women’s all-around gymnastics competition hours before it will be on NBC.

Due to the vast difference in time zones and our hyper-connected world’s rush to be first to report the latest major headline, these games have had their share of spoiled surprises.

If 18 months of a pandemic has taught us anything, it is how to roll with the punches. So you missed the U.S. men’s basketball team loss to France, as well as seeing the women’s soccer team beat the Netherlands in a shootout . . . why not watch an equestrian event instead? How about rugby, judo or table tennis? With four, and sometimes five, networks offering Olympic coverage, there are plenty of sports to choose from.

Yes, it is strange not having fans in the stands for these games, and there may be less luster, but during a pandemic, you take what you can get. Thanks to the perseverance of host Japan, athletes from around the world who have dedicated their lives to this moment have the opportunity to compete. For all that these Olympics are not, the spirit of competition, the “thrill of victory and agony of defeat,” still shine through.

What a thrill Tuesday to have Hawaii’s own Carissa Moore win the first-ever Olympic medal for women’s surfing. Moore, who has won three World Surf League Maui Pro events at Honolua Bay, and finished second here twice, is an outstanding representative of her sport, her culture and her family. We could not be more proud.

While Carissa wrapped the 50th state in glory, Lydia Jacoby did the same this week for the 49th state, Alaska. The high school swimmer from Seward swam the race of her life to win gold in the 100-meter breaststroke. Her classmates held a watch party in the school gym to see her win Alaska’s first-ever Olympic swimming medal.

The 2020 Tokyo Games may well be remembered as the COVID-19 Olympics. Let’s hope by the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing we have put the pandemic safely behind us and our biggest concern is, once again, maintaining “radio silence.”


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